Thursday, November 28, 2013

SSO Concerts for Children - Carnival of the Animals

Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns was a French composer and is one of the first few composers Dumpling learnt about, in her music classes. The Carnival of the Animals was one of the first few CDs I bought for her to play in the car.

We caught Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery earlier this year as part of SSO's Concerts for Children and liked it a lot. Unlike the baby prom, the Children's Concert series had actors as part of the performance acting out a story line. 

With The Carnival of the Animals, it was similar with 2 actors and the orchestra playing the music as part of the story presented. The performance was staged at The Esplanade which had a nice long foyer area and there were animal standee "cut outs" and a backdrop placed for photo taking.

The idea is quite clever as it entertained children and parents alike prior to the show. :p 

No photography is allowed in the concert hall but I got a shot of the stage before the show started. The concept is kept simple with minimal props and the storyline presented by 2 actors from L'Arsenal à Musique known for its creative combination of animation, theatre and circus arts to introduce concert music to a broad audience. In this concert, the actors used colorful puppets and props to depict the movement and characteristics of the various animals - from the Lion's Royal March to the Dziggetai's swift movements (depicted by kick-ass scales played by 2 pianists who incidentally are twin sisters), to the call of the Cuckoo in the woods (depicted by the clarinet). 

I personally enjoyed the melody for the Aquarium as it was one of the pieces which had more musical instruments coming together as well as a really slow version of 'Galop infernal' (famously known as 'can-can') from Offenbach's operetta. The music for the heavy footsteps of the elephants was aptly depicted by the double bass too :) Dumpling's favorite was the piece on The Swan which was both graceful and beautiful.

While the performance was very enjoyable, I also felt that the orchestra was somewhat over shadowed by the actors. The up side was that actors were really good and had perfect comic timing. Completed with colorful costumes and props, they were visually pleasing. The down side was that the melodies ended up as a supporting role instead of being the 'lead character' as they were a tad short.

On the whole, the performance was very enjoyable. Like the SSO baby prom, there was an interactive segment where there was audience participation. The Concert for Children is definitely a great way to introduce the children to classical music! We will definitely be catching the next production - The Story of Babar, The Little Elephant.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Book Talk Tuesday! Tale of the Messed Up Talent Show with WORLDWIDE GIVEAWAY $100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash!

Book Talk Tuesday is a new initiative which I am rolling out in this blog. Dumpling and I go through quite a few books weekly from casual 'reads' to titles which we use for homeschool too. The initiative will cover titles which we enjoy to reviews and to share some latest book releases. To mark this new initiative, I am pleased to share not only on a brand new title BUT also a Worldwide GIVEAWAY OF $100 AMAZON GIFT CARD OR PAYPAL CASH! 


About the Book

The Tale of the Messed Up Talent Show

Title: Tale of the Messed Up Talent Show (Madison and GA - My Guardian Angel) Author: Melissa Perry Moraja Publication Date: November 15, 2013 Publisher: Independent - Melissa Productions Inc. Number of pages: 156 Recommended age: 6-12    


Madison Wunderkind is a sweet, honest girl, who always seems to find herself in trouble with the principal. But this time she's not alone. It all started three days earlier, when Sophia, the most popular fifth-grade girl at Gator Elementary, asked Madison to hang out and plan this year's talent show. Instantly, Madison had become Little Miss Popular. But what Madison soon discovered was that being Little Miss Popular wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Her best friends were ignoring her. Her brothers were angry at her. And her guardian angel, GA, was irritated by her snobbish attitude. And if things couldn't get more messed up for Madison, everything that could go wrong at the talent show did, sparking Principal Dimples to find out why! Find out what happens at Gator Elementary's Talent Show. Will GA be able to help Madison? Or will Madison become Little Miss Lonely? Also, try and find one of GA's feathers in each picture!


Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunes

You can purchase the first book of the series (e-copy), Tale of the Slimy Spitball for only 99 cents until Christmas, December 25, 2013 from Amazon. Just click on the cover below!

Madison and GA The Tale of the Slimy Spitball by Melissa Perry Moraja  

About the Author: Melissa Perry Moraja

Melissa Perry Moraja, AuthorMelissa Perry Moraja, Founder of Melissa Productions, Inc., is an entrepreneurial mom, a multifaceted business woman, a creative producer, and an author/illustrator of numerous modern-fantasy children's books and self-help books. Melissa also has published articles, appeared on television, been interviewed on radio, has spoken in front of hundreds of people, and held workshops at local schools, discussing creative learning, publishing and parenting. Her desire to make a difference in her four young children’s lives inspired her to leave her six-salary career at IBM in 2007 to become a full-time mom and children's author. Melissa spends her personal time coaching soccer and softball, painting, and coming up with fun art projects for her kids. She also blogs for Working Mother blog, has guest blogged for Charlotte Observer Mom's Charlotte, and has her own personal blog at Not Your Ordinary Psychic Mom. Melissa is also committed to building awareness and support for Type 1 Diabetes. Her twin daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes November 4, 2011. To learn more about Madison's type 1 diabetes disease please read Madison's Story.

Website | Blog | Facebook (Author Fan Page)

Facebook (Book Fan Page) | Twitter | Pinterest

* $100 Book Blast Giveaway *

Prize: $100 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner's choice) Contest runs: November 25 to December 24, 11:59 pm, 2013 Open: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Melissa Perry Moraja and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions - feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

MDBR Kid Lit Book Promotion Services - Button FINAL

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Our Legoland Adventure with 8 "Survivor" Tips!

As part of our year end activities, Legoland is one of the places that I have planned to visit with Dumpling this holiday season. The Little Miss has been bugging me to bring her there since she first spotted bus shelter ads and bus ads. With the water park operational, I guess that it was a good time for us to venture there! 

We spent an entire day there with some friends where my GF drove us in. I thought that it would be great to share some survival tips with you in this post! 

:: 1. Go by the second causeway! 
It took about 40 mins for us to get to Legoland from Bukit Batok area without any jam (we went on a weekday so that helps). Once inside, you will need to pay toll charges so head to the left lanes where there are people operating the toll barrier so that you can purchase a TouchNGo card which looks something like this:

The card costs RM50 where the value in the card is RM40 and toll charges each way is RM7.50. 

:: 2. Look for the brown signs on the left of the road! 
Frankly, I am really bad with directions but there were signages to the left of the road which were pretty prompt and clear and all we had to do was to follow the brown signs.

:: 3. Pack water, bring along food and use a trolley / backpack if you need & wear comfy shoes!
I consume about 1.5 to 2 litres of water daily so water is a must for me. The mistake I made was that I used a sling bag instead of a backpack. Additionally, as there were 3 kids and 3 mummies, we brought along food too to avoid food queues and well, to eat healthily. On hindsight, we should have brought along a trolley bag to lug the water and food around instead. 

The park is pretty huge so comfortable footwear is a must. The 2 other mummies wore track shoes and I wore flip flops coz I walk best in them. :p

:: 4. Head in bright and early
We started our day fairly early (around 10+) and it was relatively empty and this was even with a lot of school children there that morning. As such, our queues for most rides and activities were pretty short and we could get to the activities pretty quick! 

First up for Dumpling: Lego Driving School!

:: 5. Bring along some cash
Though the souvenir shops accept credit card, having some cash was useful as we bought not only drinks but I could not help myself and paid for this too! It was too cute for me to give it a pass and on hindsight, I was really glad that I bought it as that was just about the only personalised item she had from the excursion. The pass came with a nice lanyard and the whole thing costs RM35.

:: 6. Sun protection!
When we got there in the morning, the weather was beautiful. It was in fact just a tad cloudy with not much sun. It was much later in the late afternoon around 4pm that it became very much hotter. So bring along a cap and use sunscreen as there are not many sheltered areas in the park! (see below)

Pretty much an open area without much shelter

:: 7. Bring along a camera besides the usual camera phone
I found loads to take when I was there. There were so many precious moments where the kids had so much fun and had comical shots too! 

From having fun at the fire station and putting out "fire"... 

To being 'prisoners'...

To Mama Sue here having a go at a vertical ride...

To pretty shots like these (YES, IT IS A LEGO TRAIN!!!)

To nice mummy-daughter pic...

It was a lovely place with loads of nice photo opportunities! 

:: 8. Learn to let go!
I will be the first to admit it, it is hard letting go at times watching kids grow up too fast too soon! During this trip, I learnt to let go a lot because paranoid mum here was not allowed to get on some of the rides with her. She went alone on the horsie (3 ROUNDS!!!) 

To wanting to do a pretty high water slide (yellow slide below) on her own (ALL OF 5 ROUNDS!) all on her own! *shudder*

Funnily, I also had to learn to "let go" in a different way - I had to brave the roller coaster. I love the vertical tower type of rides but I absolutely hate roller coasters (pic below is the more 'tame' part of the ride where the 'dip' was not captured possibly because I was shaking after riding it TWICE as Dumpling refuses to get out after round 1!!!)

All in all, we had a marvellous time and we will definitely be back again! I hope that you have foundthe tips useful and here's a parting shot from us!

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Friday, November 22, 2013

You Station - Because Chinese Oracy Matters + GIVEAWAY!

Dumpling attended a Chinese Oracy camp a few months ago and I really like the concept of the workshop where she got to attend some excursions as well as had the chance to explore Chinese idioms as part of the Oracy Programme. It was a 4-day camp where half of the 3 days were spent on excursions of which she visited a radio station, Mint Toy Museum and NEWater plant. The great thing was that all tours were conducted in Mandarin! :)

Dumpling with some 'camp-mates' at a radio station

At NEWater - see if you can spot Dumpling who was trying to get a shot of some light and water elements in the ground

Dumpling posing with a simple Bento open face 'sandwich' I made for her with a TV screen! :) 

My interest was a little piqued on this special focus on Chinese Oracy and I reached out to the directors of the Centre on their goals and thoughts on the Chinese language. Celestine Low is an established writer for the media industry having held core production roles for multiple prime-time Chinese programmes such as Star Awards, Star Search and Who Wants to be a Millionaire, etc. 

Michelle Chia is a well known, accomplished local actress in the media industry. She is also known to be an effectively bilingual TV host who started her journey in the media industry at 6 years old. 

:: What sparked off the interest to start You Station at the start of this year, especially when you both are busy with your jobs in the media industry? 

I was Chinese educated in my primary school years; whereby I took Chinese as a First Language and English as a Second Language. And that builds a strong foundation in my Chinese language. Being immersed in a Chinese speaking environment both in school and at home since young, I am deeply rooted in the mother tongue and have a strong passion for the language. Throughout my years of work in the Media industry as a Advertising Copywriter and a Research Writer for MediaCorp, being bilingual has opened up numerous good opportunities for me. 

I see the importance of being bilingual and also to retain the roots of our mother tongue which our new generation seems to be slowly losing. It saddens me to see the children around me disliking Chinese or can't speak the language. And it struck me especially hard one day when my daughter at the age of 4 then, told me that she doesn't want to speak Mandarin as she is an "English" because she speaks English and all her classmates speak English too. 

I was totally surprised upon hearing that because my daughter was born and lived in Shanghai for nearly 3 years and at that time, we have only returned to Singapore less than a year and she has attended her preschool for merely half a year. I then started to create a more Mandarin speaking environment at home, exposing them to Chinese kids programmes, using fun activities such as word games to reinforce their word recognition etc. I am glad and proud to say that my children enjoy learning Chinese now and they are pretty good at it. So it's important to create an appetite for the Chinese language, let kids learn through the fun way and they'll get better with practice. I have also observed that our primary school Chinese curriculum focuses mainly on worksheets and children have very little oral practice in school and also at home. Hence they are generally weak in their Chinese oral presentation. I sincerely hope You Station can play a part in nurturing and stirring up interest in the Chinese language for the young generation.   

I love children and have always wanted to work with them since young. Though I've always had the dream to start a school long time ago, I haven't been able to find THE real direction. In the recent years I got more chances to communicate with children of family and friends, and it saddens me to see resentment in learning and speaking of the Chinese language.

Given the chance to be immersed in a Mandarin speaking environment at a very young age gave me the opportunity to learn and practice both languages. It opened many doors throughout my career, enabling me to host in both Chinese and English programmes. I sincerely wish to see our younger generations be proud of their mother tongue and are able to keep their roots. Most of all, knowing more than one language is definitely an advantage in life in all aspects. 

:: So what do you hope to achieve with the setting up with You Station?
- To create an appetite for Chinese language in the young children.
- To help eliminate fear in children in learning Chinese and speaking Mandarin.
- To reach out to the children in their early childhood to strengthen their language foundation.
- To be able to show them that learning Chinese can also be fun. And being able to speak Mandarin is cool! Be proud to say 'I am Chinese',  NOT 'I am English because I speak English'. 

:: How is You Station, as an enrichment centre, different from that of other centres?

We believe that You Station has an unique curriculum:
1. You Station is a Chinese Oracy School. We focus on building confidence in the oral presentation, improving reading & listening skills, comprehension skills and enriching vocabulary in children.

2. The curriculum at YOU Station is under-girded by our belief that play is a powerful tool to overcome the fear of language learning.

3. Our activities in class are specially designed to be fun and interactive, enabling children to learn in a stress-free environment. One of the key strategies used in YOU Station is in creating an Edutainment Hub through role-playing as news readers and reciting stories in front of You Station "TV" and video-camera to build confidence in public speaking. Activities like picture talk, experiential learning, show & tell, word games and other music and dramatised elements.

4. Children are immersed in a Mandarin speaking environment for 1.5 hours weekly to speak, read & listen. They are given more opportunities to speak Mandarin and to read aloud in front of their teacher and classmates. With weekly practice, they get better in speaking Mandarin and reading; thus gradually build up their confidence in public speaking.

5. Experiential learning is an unique element in our preschool curriculum; children learn vocabulary and knowledge through the 5 senses. To prepare children for their primary one, we include picture talk in our K1 & K2 programmes.

6. News reading is the highlight of our primary school curriculum. We also learn practical idioms through the fun way.

Importantly, You Station's curriculum is activities-based whereas most Chinese enrichment centres are worksheets-based. We focus on speaking, listening, reading & word recognition through fun activities while other enrichment centres place more focus on writing (doing worksheets).

Our curriculum is also packed closely to the primary school examinations; like we have picture talk, show & tell,  news reading etc., that'll equip children for their oral assessment in school. Such activities also help in comprehension and composition.

:: In the course of working with children, what are some of your most memorable experiences? 

One of our students who used to dislike Chinese and wouldn't speak a word of Mandarin came to my teacher and me one Saturday showing us a sheet of Chinese lyrics of a song. He said he likes that song and is learning to sing it. And so my teacher encouraged him and sing together with him :-). That to be says a lot about the change in the student's mindset towards the Chinese Language.

In our classes, children are given the time to draw. I am always very happy to receive a few hand drawn cards from our students as this goes to show that they enjoy their learning experience here.

:: What has been the most rewarding part about the setting up of You Station? 
We get immense satisfaction when parents feedback that their child has started speaking Mandarin to them at home and their school teachers say that they are happy learning during Chinese classes. We also had some children who refused to speak a word of Mandarin when they first joined us replying us in Mandarin after some time.

Importantly, we are happy to learn from the parents that their children look forward coming to our school every week. Some children who used to be shy and speak softly now able to speak in front of their teacher and classmates confidently and loudly :-) and this speaks a lot about their self esteem and the lack of resistance now towards Mandarin.

:: I believe that the readers would love to learn from your experience. Can you share some tips on how a parent can support their child(ren) in the learning of Chinese / love of Chinese better?
1. Speak Mandarin to your children (if parents are able to) even when they answer back in English. It takes time but you'll hear them replying back in Mandarin.
2. Read with them daily. Start this habit from young!

3. Watch Chinese kids programmes. catch up TV has some nice ones; or watch their favourite cartoons dubbed in Mandarin. My 4 & 7 years old daughters enjoy watching Peppa Pig in Chinese and my girls speak like Peppa Pig now :-))

4. Recognise that it is a learning journey - bring them to places they are interested in and speak Mandarin along the way.
1. Introduce them to Chinese pop songs. Tune your radio in the car to a Chinese station and discuss about what you hear over the radio. Listening is the most efficient way to learn.

2. The younger a child starts learning a language, the faster they can pick it up.

3. Share stories and/or news with children that can indirectly show them that Chinese can also be cool. Show them videos of other children performing in Mandarin if they like singing, or even dancing. They are always curious about other young kids and are attracted by what they do.

4. If the child watches cartoons, look out for their favourite ones dubbed in Mandarin. They will be learning without realising it and you'll be surprised when they suddenly regurgitate what they've heard. My nieces did that because my mom listens to Chinese songs while traveling with them in the car.

:: What are the classes offered at You Station and why specifically those areas? 
Currently, we offer classes from 4 - 10 years old. Next year, we'll add on 3 years old parent-accompanied class & PSLE preparation class (11 & 12 years old). We are starting a Chinese Calligraphy class as we think that it is nice for the children to have a chance to learn some traditional Chinese Art form.

Exclusive to Beanie N Us Readers!
I have a total of 16 passes to give away for a free trial class worth a total of $640 to give away!

Here's how to win!

Earn credits using Rafflecopter below by:

1) Clicking 'Like' on You Station Facebook page and my Blog Facebook page
2) Leaving a comment in the comment section on "One tip which you can share on encouraging an interest in the Chinese language with your child(ren)!" (Please also provide the age of your child so we know how to allocate the slot)
3) Sharing this post with your friends on your FB page! 
(For Singapore residents only)

The more credits you earn, the higher your chances! :)

Note: Class timings for the trials are provided by You Station based on the centre's classes schedules as below. This is for first-time students only. As the classes are held in Singapore, participants need to be Singapore residents. The trial class is not exchangeable for cash or for other workshops. By taking part in this giveaway, you agree to share your contact details with You Station.


Trial timing are as below:
4 Years Old - 4 passes to be given away! 
Sat 915am - 1045am 
Sun 11am - 1230pm

5 & 6 Years Old - 6 passes to be given away! 
Sat 11am - 1230pm
Sat 3.30pm - 5pm

7 & 8 Years Old - 6 passes to be given away! 
Sat 11am - 1230pm
Sat 3.30pm - 5pm

You Station
170 Upper Bukit Timah Road
Bukit Timah Shopping Centre, #03-73K / 74K, 
Singapore 588179
Disclaimer: Dumpling attended as a paid participant for her camp in June. I am not compensated for this post though You Station has kindly extended these trial classes for you readers at Beanie N Us! 

About Celestine and Michelle, founders of YOU Station

CELESTINE LOW is an established writer for the Media industry. Her portfolio includes advertisement projects that won international acclaim. Celestine held numerous core production roles for multiple prime-time Chinese programmes such as Star Awards, Star Search and Who Wants to be a Millionaire etc. She was also the Head of Marketing for, subsidiary of MediaCorp, which was one of the first Chinese websites in Singapore. With three young children aged 10, 7 and 4, Celestine brings with her acute understanding of what young children need and her wealth of knowledge in performance within the entertainment industry.

MICHELLE CHIA is a well known, accomplished and effectively bilingual TV host and actress in the media industry.  Discovered at the age of 6, Michelle established herself as a recognised modern and talented artiste over 30 years in the industry with many popular programs and awards under her sleeves. Besides the media industry, Michelle is also an entrepreneur and an active citizen. She recently received the JCI Ten Outstanding Young Persons Award, and will represent Singapore in the TOYP World award in Brazil 2013.

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Playtime - Our Year End Holiday Plans!

For this Year-end holidays, what are some of your activities? Goodness, I did not realize that I promised Dumpling that we will be heading out to so many places and do so many activities. So I am gonna write them all down so that I can remember them and hopefully it gives you some ideas too.

:: 1. Legoland
Unlike many of my friends who have been there, we have yet to visit this place. I have heard so many things about this park and with the addition of its water park – 20 thrilling slides and more than 70 lego models, how can anyone resist?

Edit: (update as of 25 Nov) We visited Legoland and had a ball of a time! Here's sharing 8 useful survival tips

As Dumpling has been learning a musical instrument for the past year, she is pretty keen on this performance. Frankly the Baby Prom did not do much for us when we caught it 2 years back. Rather, she enjoyed the SSO’s Concerts for Children tremendously.

Here’s an excerpt on Carnival of Animals:
Discover the marvellous universe of the Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns with Octave and Mandoline, as they guide you through a magical world where lions, kangaroos, turtles and other animals come to life through the use of small and large marionettes, each more surprising than the other.

Source: Sistic

Edit: Here's sharing on our experience at the Carnival of Animals!

:: 3. Chinese Speech & Drama
I have also signed Dumpling up for a Chinese Speech and Drama Programme conducted by Apple Pie. Dumpling had good experiences with its previous programme on Alice in Various Lands as well as Little Red Riding Hood. This time round, the play is on Snow White. Dumpling is pretty excited about this and I am too, looking at the old poster! 

Source: Apple Pie Website

The latest Disney movie to hit our shores, Frozen tells the tale of Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) teaming up with a rugged mountain man Kristoff (voice of Jonathan Groff) in a quest to find her sister, Elsa (voice of GLEE star Idina Menzel), who has trapped the Kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Dumpling and I will be going on a movie date with her friends (and my mummy friends!) (Source)

Here’s a look at the official trailer:

Money-saving tip: Catch it on a weekday where some of our local theatres run promotions where your preschooler (age 6 and below) watches for free!

I have not been to any Disney Live shows before and I am definitely looking forward to this one. Here’s some details from the website:

6 November - 1 December 2013, MasterCard Theatres - Sands Theatre
Abracadabra! It's Disney Live! presents Mickey's Magic Show! Mickey, Minnie and a host of Disney friends come together with world-class magicians to perform magic from legendary Disney films right before your eyes. For more information, here’s the sistic link

Source: Marina Bay Sands Website

Pointillism is one of the styles Van Gogh used in his self portrait which adds texture and depth to a painting and Dumpling has requested to be enrolled for Heart Studio's Holiday Pointillism camp! This is for the Young Masters Class and is a 3-day Camp. 

For more information, view their schedule here!  

Update: Here's a post on the Pointillism Camp which Dumpling attended to share! 

I love that these tours and workshops are specially customized and brought down to the level of the little ones and I love that Dumpling has a chance at some outdoor activity. Here’s the link to find out more ‘Sara at The Children’s Garden’ and the link to learn more about Dragonflies.

Source: Jacob Ballas Website

Update: Here's sharing on what went on in "The Birthday Party: Sara at the Children's Garden".

:: 8. Movies under the Stars
I was just invited to attend this with a GF and just because I have not done something like that before with the kiddo and also because the movie is Wall E! :)

I hope to be blogging about these activities and adding onto this list! What have you planned for your kiddos?!? 

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram!
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